Buddhism is one of the oldest religions in the world, tracing its history back to the birth of the Buddha, which means “the enlightened one,” 2556 years ago. In Korea, it is a national holiday, which thankfully landed on a Friday this year. It was pretty cool to have a three day weekend, but the festivities aren’t just about having a day off (even if it is a nice perk).
Seoul is the city I currently live in, so naturally, I have a lot of great things to say about it. Here are three more things to do in Southern Seoul using the Express Bus Terminal Subway Exit as a reference point. I am using that station as a starting point because it is a good central location in the South side of Seoul, and a likely location for visitors who take the long distance buses to locations outside of Seoul to places like Yeoju (King Sejong’s Tomb). However, you can of course see these any time you are in southern Seoul. This is essentially a “part 3” post, so in case you missed the first two articles, they are here, and here.
1) Bongeunsa Temple and Temple Stay
Bongeunsa is one of the largest Buddhist temples in Seoul. Despite what websites like tripadvisor might tell you, it is actually quite easy to find a Buddhist temple in Seoul. However, just like you wouldn’t tour just any regular church, most Buddhist temples are meant for meditating or praying, not tourism. This one however is quite impressive for its size and history given that it is in the heart of Seoul. Most of the other important temples in Korea, such as Haeinsa Temple near Daegu (article coming soon) or Bulguksa Temple near Gyeongju (also coming soon) are quite far from the city and are deserving of a trip in their own right. Bongeunsa however, is perfect for people on a “time budget” who don’t have an extra day to visit far away temples.
Location: Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do Province, South Korea
Visited: October 3, 2011
Opinion and Background:
This was definitely more interesting to me than it would be to the average person who doesn’t really know Korean history (or lived in Korea for that matter). I must note that this is a bit of a cheat. The UNESCO inscription includes all 40 tombs of the Joseon Dynasty, scattered all over Korea in 18 different sites. While I have visited other Joseon tombs, I decided to review only this site that includes three tombs because:
a) It contains the most important king in Korean history (Sejong the Great).
b) It is easier to give an assessment about something that is in a single location.
c) It is the best of the Joseon Tombs that I have visited.
The tombs are very well kept and the entrance is full of replicas of accomplishments by King Sejong. However, most of the things displayed are not originals, as they have been lost by repeated Japanese invasions. In addition, considering that King Sejong is THE most important historical figure in Korean history, I expected this site would have more, grandeur.